BOSTON – A graduate student at the University of Georgia was arrested today for blackmailing a Massachusetts woman over sexual videos, photos and messages and following her online for over a year and a half.
Gary E. Leach, 23, of Athens, Georgia, has been charged with a number of cyberstalking and a number of extortions from interstate threats. Leach is due to appear in federal court in the Middle District of Georgia later today.
According to the indictments, from October 2019 and to date, Leach received private video calls and photos of a sexual nature from the victim through false promises to pay and secretly recorded the victim during those calls. Leach allegedly threatened to share the recordings with the victim’s family if she did not continue to send him content of a sexual nature via Instagram, and repeatedly harassed and blackmailed the victim for additional interactions of a sexually explicit and degrading nature. Leach allegedly used anonymous Instagram accounts to contact and harass the victim, including accounts with nicknames for the victim and various variations of the username “u.kno_who”.
While communicating with the victim, Leach allegedly revealed to her that he behaved similarly with other Instagram users and told her in a message, “Honey, I have hundreds of videos and thousands of pictures carefully categorized by name . ”Leach allegedly told the victim that some of these women also did not know they had been taped.
If you believe you are a victim of the allegations in this case, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/victim-and-witness-assistance-program/us-v-gary-leach
The charge of electronic stalking includes up to five years ‘imprisonment, three years’ custody release and a US $ 250,000 fine. The charges of extortion through interstate threats of reputational abuse include up to two years’ imprisonment, one year of custody and a US $ 250,000 fine. Sentences are passed by a federal district judge based on U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.
Acting United States attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special envoy for the Boston Field Division’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced the announcement today. U.S. Assistant Attorney David M. Holcomb of Mendell’s Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Division is pursuing the case.
The information contained in the fee documents are allegations. The accused is presumed innocent unless and until he has been found unequivocally guilty in a court of law.